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Ståle KLEIBERG (b. 1958)
Concerto for Violin and Orchestra (2005) [25:19]
Concerto for Double Bass and Orchestra (1999) [25:35]
Marianne Thorsen (violin); Göran Sjölin (double-bass)
Trondheim Symfoniorkester/Daniel Reuss
rec. Olavshallen, Trondheim, Norway, May 2008 (violin); May 2007 (double-bass)
2L59 [50:54]
Experience Classicsonline

Kleiberg has featured in these pages before (see links below) and it is a pleasure at last to be able to review his music myself. The expectations raised by the other two reviews are not disappointed. Here are two concertos by this broadly speaking, neo-romantic Norwegian composer.

His Violin Concerto is as passionate as the concertos by Bloch and Walton … and as melodious. The emotions are grown-up and delve deep in a way that may also remind you of Vaughan Williams and Rózsa. The finale is hoarsely resinous, bluff, thrusting and heroically fervent. The soloist Marianne Thorsen is matched in passion and impressionistic panache by the Trondheimers and Daniel Reuss.

The Double-Bass Concerto does not reek of that poisonous combination occasionally encountered in such works - novelty instrument put through its paces amicd thin orchestral ideas. This, rather like the Vittorio Giannini and John Carbon works is fully fledged not a whit less seriously intentioned nor any less romantic. The expressive realm is somewhere between Vaughan Williams and Prokofiev and when I say ‘Prokofiev’ I mean early fantastic-romantic Prokofiev. There are some masterfully impressionist effects along the way including the whispered creaking insect voices of the string orchestra at 3:40 in the first movement. The Adagio is haunted by the voices of fanciful birds and by a kind of serene spirit. Throughout the work the double-bass avoids the bustling bluff yeoman spirit we might have feared. This work amounts to a real poem in three movements for this instrument which is treated as a dignified and even seductive singer rather than a gap-toothed buffoon. This is a concerto which happens to have been written for double-bass rather than a concerto written down to hackneyed preconceptions about the range and emotional depth of the double-bass.

The notes are by Jim Samson who we know from a fine Kahn and Averill study of Szymanowski when that composer was far less fashionable than he is now.

Do take this as a cue to purchase. I think you will want to move to the symphonies after this.

Meantime immerse yourself in two confident and effusively romantic concertos.

Rob Barnett

Links to previous Kleiberg reviews:

Symphonies 1 & 2



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